The New England Patriots found themselves in a critical situation midway through the third quarter of their Week 12 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Up 19-13 and facing a 3rd-and-6 at the Tennessee 41-yard line, anything but a conversion would have given the Titans a realistic chance at taking their first lead of the day.
At that point in the game, the Patriots had converted just two of their seven third-down attempts. They were unsuccessful on their last five straight.
This one, however, went differently thanks to the “Energizer Bunny” himself: wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
The nickname was given to him by teammate David Andrews, who had a first-row look at Bourne’s 41-yard catch-and-run — a play that did not just move the chains but put New England up 26-13.
Andrews snapped the ball to quarterback Mac Jones, who then threw a quick pass to Bourne on a crossing pattern. The first-year Patriot crossed the line to gain, was able to break a tackle and get around the edge thanks to a block by teammate Jakobi Meyers, and tip-toed his way into the end zone for six.
“I definitely thought I was going to get hit,” Bourne said about the play after the game. “Shoutout to Jakobi with the great block. That was what made the whole play. He’s been doing that his whole career, blocking really well, and he caught a really good block right there. Giving that extra effort he gave really spurred me, so shoutout to him, but just a good play overall by the whole group.”
Bourne’s touchdown was the biggest offensive play of the day for the Patriots, who went on to beat the Titans 36-13. It was not the wide receiver’s only contribution to the victory, though: he finished with five receptions for 61 yards and a total of two scores.
“KB ran well on the sideline, didn’t go out of bounds, fought for the extra yards. Had a nice, stiff arm. Finished the run, so that was it. It was a great play by KB,” said head coach Bill Belichick.
“He’s done that a few times. You know, those explosive plays are just such game-changers and obviously today we didn’t do a great job in the red area. We left a lot of points on the field but when you get a play like that where you can run it in last 40 yards and not have to run a dozen plays down in the red area makes it a lot easier. Love to see those plays happen.”
Bourne first arrived in New England earlier this offseason, signing a three-year, $15 million deal with the organization. Through 12 games, he has caught 42 passes for a team-leading 623 yards as well as five touchdowns. Also adding 78 yards on six carries, he is now ranked second on the team in yards from scrimmage.
The former San Francisco 49ers wideout, who entered the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2017, has now established himself as one of the go-to weapons in the Patriots’ offensive arsenal. He also is a tone-setter off the field, as was pointed out by the aforementioned David Andrews.
“KB is like the Energizer Bunny. I think he’s like a Labrador. Golden Retriever-like. I’ve had those dogs before. They’re just always happy, you know?” he said. “Even when you kind of correct them or get onto them, they’re just like, ‘Alright. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get it done.’ KB’s been awesome. Love having to work with him. Been a lot of fun to play with.”